Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Review: Bokura no☆Hikari Club

Title: Bokura no☆Hikari Club (2011)
Author(s): Furuya Usamaru
Genre: Drama, Horror, Seinen, Psychological
Volumes: 2

I'm going to break the mold of putting a synopsis this time, because there's not really much to say about this manga. Bokura no☆Hikari Club is a prequel of Furuya Usamru's homoerotic, dark comedy Litchi☆Hikari Club. It was a prequel that I was super eager to jump into after reading its sequel. In short, this installment is the origin story of the Hikari Club (Light Club) and how these nine boys came together.

Clearly this post is massively delayed as the post for Litchi☆Hikari Club was posted about a year ago and at that time, I had started reading this installment. Of course, I finished it some time in May 2015 and here I am in May 2016 putting together my review. I really struggle with time, obviously, but I digress. Much like the sequel, this is definitely a manga I wouldn't recommend reading at I did. Bad idea! It contains pretty much the same mature content as Litchi, so obviously if you're not into gay romance, homoeroticism, dark humor, and some gore, then this is definitely not for you. I almost want to say there's a little more gay in this one than Litchi, but I could be wrong.

Something I was clamoring for in Litchi☆Hikari Club was more character depth and this prequel definitely delivers on expanding the personalities and backstories of our characters. It might not touch on all nine club members, but it gave me just enough to make me happy. Something I mentioned that I really loved about Litchi were its characters and this prequel did the impossible and made me love them even more. Like most prequels, I'm happy this came after Litchi's release as it hid some aspects that would've made certain situations in Litchi predictable, but I think their personalities and storytelling might've saved it from being too cliche. One stand out character that I've grown to love significantly more from Litchi is Tamiya, the original or perhaps true leader of the Hikari Club. On the surface, he could seem like a bland or generic character that just got pushed out of leadership by Zera, but there's so much more to him. He values friendship and the bond between the members. He's a very loyal character and learning the true foundation of the Hikari Club made me sympathize with him even more for the future. Although we never find out where these kids' parents are, I feel like Zera's backstory gives us a little hint about his family life. His backstory explains this idea of beauty and damnation, more or less. He has this warped sense of manhood that you can almost say reflects reality. It also goes along with puberty and identity (i.e. discovering pornographic material). This self searching element links into Jaibo's character. I've already mentioned that Jaibo has surprisingly leaped and clung to my heart in Litchi and Bokura no☆Hikari Club makes me love this beautiful yandere even more. Similar to Zera, we get to learn a little bit about Jaibo's family, which fills in the gaps of how he is able to gather medical materials for the club. The story also doesn't hold back on showing how much of a disturbed character Jaibo is either. In a sense, he is the polar opposite of Tamiya, but holds a similarity in being secure with himself. Which brings the option of Zera going either direction with these influential characters. Of course, Jaibo's unusual aura overshadows Tamiya's light and feeds an ego that Zera didn't realizes his possesses inside, while also exploring some uncertainties that are buried within him. As mentioned earlier, I'm glad that this prequel came out after Litchi☆Hikari Club, otherwise it would've been obvious that Jaibo would derail the club's goals. While the story doesn't explore too deeply with the other members, we do get to learn how they became part of the club and their loyalty toward either Tamiya or Zera. There's just enough tension and progression that you can smoothly transition into or back into Litchi.

While I'm happy that the story opened up and dissected our main characters in a satisfying manner, I almost wished that I knew a little bit about their family background or relationship, especially Zera and Jaibo. It feels like these two characters are slightly influenced by their family, but the story only gently touches on these faceless adults. I can understand the possible reason for this as they seem rebellious toward adults or society as a whole. This can be evidence by the torture of one of their teachers in Litchi☆Hikari Club, but that's simply a theory. I also enjoyed that the light (Tamiya) and dark (Jaibo) got to interact significantly more in this prequel and solidify that divide in their ideals and goals with the club and ultimately Zera. I'm not sure if this was included in the serialization, since I read this manga through scanslation, but I enjoyed the humorous, random re-sketches of certain panels placed between the chapters. It was a nice little break between the heavy content and dark humor the story presented.

Once again, I yearn for a full length anime series for this manga. I feel like the yaoi genre truly needs something darkly humorous with beauty and gore. I don't get to indulge in yaoi or shounen ai often, but this series truly brings two things I enjoy together. It is great to hear that a new rendition of the play has been performed and released on DVD, but since my Japanese sucks, English subtitles would be greatly appreciated. I might watch the older version raw to keep me slightly sated, but it would be great to fully understand the source material of this homoerotic, dark comedy. Another thing I'm excited for and feel like it would get an English translation sooner is the release of the live action film.

If I already wasn't obsessed, Bokura no☆Hikari Club definitely solidifies my obsession with this story and these diverse characters. It saddens me that there isn't much available for non-native speakers that are part of the fandom and I really hope that the live action movie perhaps pushes more availability for English subtitles in the near future or even fansubs. Seriously, if you know where a version of the stage play exists with English subtitles, please please let me know. Otherwise, I will be waiting eagerly for the live action movie (as well as the impending Zera and Jaibo figures) to be released. It also saddens me that Vertical didn't keep their word of publishing the prequel for the States either. In short, this is a fantastic prequel that opens up doors to the personalities and backstories of the main characters of the Hikari Club. Of course, same warnings apply to this prequel as it did with its sequel as this series is definitely not for everyone. I also warn non-native speakers that finding more contain related to Litchi☆Hikari Club will be quite the challenge, but it is well worth it!

Rating: 4.5/5

If there's something you want me to review, check out this post on how you can submit requests.

No comments: